Tying It Together with an EMS Proper Use of Energy Management Systems Maximizes Efficiency

Article excerpt

IN THE LAST FIVE ISSUES OF JPM, WE'VE REVIEWED WAYS TO REDUCE ENERGY USE AND COSTS, INCLUDING THERMOSTATS, LIGHTING AND PLUG LOADS. An energy management system (EMS) is the one piece of equipment in your building that has the potential to bring all the energy-consuming systems together, and operate them synergistically for maximum efficiency and comfort.


An EMS is not a substitute for competent building operators; it's a powerful enhancement. Often, building operators use their systems as glorified time clocks, simply scheduling on/off times for HVAC equipment and lighting. But a good EMS is much more useful than that.

Delve deeper into the functions of your EMS by sitting down with the controls company to find out all the great things it can do. Make sure to document or record the session with the controls company so you aren't placing the success of your energy management program in the hands of one person. Often, the EMS has built-in or easily available functionality of which building operators might not be aware. If necessary, consider budgeting for incremental upgrades while looking into potential utility incentives or rebates.

A fully-utilized EMS can perform many functions, including determining optimal start and stop times of equipment automatically, based on readings of indoor/outdoor temperatures and humidity; directing the movement of conditioned air; discontinuing conditioned air at a certain threshold; adjusting ventilation based on CO or [CO.sub.2] levels; and monitoring utility meters to allow operators to trend and track performance--just to name a few. An EMS can also tie into equipment outside of HVAC, including indoor and outdoor lighting, water heaters and irrigation systems.

An EMS can act as a fail-safe to prevent or correct mistakes. It can automatically reset manual overrides on time clocks and thermostats, so a special adjustment doesn't become permanent, and it can limit set points to within a specified range to prevent excessive equipment operations. …


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